September 19th, 2008 by Christopher Musico

As promised, the Annual Call Center Exhibition in Phoenix earlier this week produced some laughs, thought leadership, and surprising statistics. However, industry vendors also utilized the conference as a stage to unveil its latest solutions aimed at helping companies improve customer service.

Seattle, Wash.-based contact center solutions provider Envision Telephony unleashed Envision Centricity for immediate availability. The offering attempts to fly in the face of siloed information by unifying all of the company’s current workforce optimization (WFO) solutions for the contact center into one integrated suite, something Tom Aiello, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for the company, says is absolutely necessary given market conditions. “There is high customer demand for a suite,” he said. “At the end of the day, customers just want an end-to-end solution.”

While he noted the two main differentiators for Centricity are the facts that the integration is seamless and the total cost of ownership then drops, its goes deeper than just the actual products. Looking to target mid-tier contact centers, which Aiello defined is 1,000 seats max, he said his company takes time to visit prospective clients and dig deep into its operations — he says this can take anywhere from a day to two-and-a-half days — to determine if Envision can deliver a solution to improve the business. “It’s the way we deal with our customers that truly makes the difference,” he said.

LiveOps, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based virtual call center company, focused on the agent desktop and security in latest Fall 08 On-Demand Call Center Platform. LiveOps agents can now log into an encrypted virtual desktop in order to ensure no customer information can be copied, pasted, and used for potentially malicious purposes. This jibes with other vendors like West at Home, a West Corporation subsidiary, announcing its locked-down desktop security environment earlier this year. On the agent desktop side, agents are now privy to quantitative and qualitative information allowing them to see how they are performing compared to their peers. For example, virtual agents working on the Lifelock account (a LiveOps customer) will be able to access call recordings and also metrics like average handle time and assess themselves compared to others.

Azita Martin, LiveOps Vice President of Marketing, said this all points to LiveOps proving both its on-demand platform and home agent force are mission-critical right now–a question many industry pundits and enterprises have asked when talking about software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the contact center. “We have a heavy emphasis of SaaS reaching a mission-critical point in the enterprise,” she explained. “LiveOps is … because we have to be. We run our business on our own platform.”

Forging ahead another step in its next-generation Impact 360 suite offering, Melville, NY-based WFO provider Verint Systems seeks to take great strides in what Jerome Brown, solutions marketing manager at the company, says is largely misunderstood in the contact center: coaching. Officially called Impact 360 Coaching, it ties coaching together with agent scorecards, key performance indicators, quality evaluations, and other metrics that can automatically trigger coaching sessions or allow supervisors to look at the data and manually determine if work needs to be done.

Noting the fact that Verint’s customer advisory board has asked the company to develop this for years, Brown the solution took some time to go through development but is well worth it. “There had to be a method and process to guarantee success [in terms of agent coaching] and we found it,” he said. “It takes a very small investment to do this, and you can very quickly realize a return in [return on investment] because you can take action immediately.”

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